All children experience discomfort in some way as they age and mature. Many children are quite resilient and encounter challenges that can be addressed by parents within the home. However, there will be times when nothing you do seems to improve the situation despite your best efforts. Knowing if a child needs help is not always easy. It’s helpful to know what to look for when your child’s struggles represent more than just “a phase.”
How do you know if your child’s issue is serious enough to need child therapy?
A child needing psychological help may display any of the following behaviors:
- Excessive worrying, anger, sadness, or anxiety
- Persistent or unusual fears
- Verbal or physical aggression
- Insistence on sameness, inability to tolerate small changes
- Few or no friends
- Nightmares or problems falling asleep
- Trouble getting out of bed in the morning and off to school
- Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
- Poor academic performance
- Impulsivity, restlessness
- School refusal, skipping classes
This is not an exhaustive list of concerns. Unresolved issues in children can become much bigger problems during adolescence. Seek help if any of the things listed here are occurring or if the signs persist or are intense.
I will work closely with you as well as your child’s teachers, doctors, or other therapists to resolve issues now. Your child’s road to recovery should be a joint effort so that you never have to feel alone. Your child’s difficulties can stem from any number of things, but they don’t have to stand in the way of his or her success.
I imagine at this point you’re wondering what therapy involves, and what you’d be getting into. And even if you’ve been to therapy before, you’ve not been in a session with me. So let me take some time to explain the treatment process to you.
It all begins with an email or a phone call from you. When people make that first connection, it’s hard to wait, they’re eager to get started. And I know that, so I will personally respond to your call, usually within the same day. When I call you, I’m going to ask you some questions to find out if we’re the right fit for each other. I’ll also tell you a little bit about my process, and we’ll schedule our first appointment together. The first appointment I refer to as the “intake interview.” I’ll also direct you to areas on my website that contain my forms, and I’ll have you complete an intake packet and bring it with you to our intake interview. If you have previous evaluations, or other documents that you think will help me to understand you and your needs better, I encourage you to bring copies of those to the first appointment as well.
Once we have the intake interview, people are very eager to begin therapy, and the intake interview is the first part of the process of starting therapy together. Usually people are very nervous when they come to the first appointment, that’s normal. I would be nervous if I were meeting a stranger for the first time. People sometimes have an image of a therapist as somebody who just sits back and doesn’t respond much and listens a lot, and I want you to know that is not me. I am very, very eager to want to get to know you and to understand your problems and to figure out what we can do together to help you.
During the intake interview I’m going to ask you questions about yourself. I want to know more about your background; I want to know about your educational history, your work history. I’ll ask you questions about your medical history, your family history, and I want to know particularly information about the history of the problem that brings you in to see me. We’ll work together to identify goals for your therapy, and then I will offer you some recommendations about how I think I can help you to reach those goals.
When the patient is a child, the initial intake interview involves parents or guardians. That appointment is about 90 minutes, and it allows me time to find out about mental history and background about your child. Following that we’ll schedule an appointment for me to spend time one-on-one with your child in my playroom. And that gives me an opportunity to observe your child clinically, get some ideas about what might be going on, but importantly it allows your child a chance to feel comfortable with me, and comfortable in the room. Now sometimes when I’m working with children, I also find it helpful to see the child and his or her parents in the playroom. And I’ll let you know if I think that that’s going to be an important part of our intake process together.
When I’m working with an adolescent the process is a little different. When I’m working with an adolescent, the first appointment is me and the adolescent together. And that allows me to get some information about the adolescent’s perspective on the problem, and it allows the adolescent a chance to feel like this is something that he or she owns, it belongs to them and they’re more invested in therapy. After that interview is concluded then I’ll schedule the full-length interview with parents or guardians to get the rest of the background information. Any time I’m working with your child or your adolescent, I invite you to spend time in my waiting room where you can make yourself comfortable and feel at home.
Once we finish the intake interviews, then we’ll have identified the problems, we’ll have come up with a plan for how to address them, and then we’re ready to start the therapy interventions, so we’re now at the point of starting therapy together. Some of the frequently asked questions I get at this point are; might I need medication as part of my therapy? And if you do, I know some very qualified physicians that I’ll recommend you give a call, and they will help us together in working on your treatment. Another question I’m frequently asked at the beginning of therapy is, how long am I going to need to see you, and how frequently do we need to get together? And really that depends on the severity of your problem and the nature of your problem. Usually people come to see me once a week, and those appointments are about 45 to 50 minutes in length. I find it very, very helpful to meet with parents on a regular basis, and that allows me a chance to get updates from you on things that are happening outside of the therapy, I can give you updates on your child or adolescent’s progress in therapy, and it’s a chance for us to coordinate the treatment together.
What makes me different from a lot of the other practitioners is that you’ll get very personal service from me in my practice. There’s no middleman, there’s no secretaries or receptionists, there’s no body else you have to tell the story to. It’s just you and me on this journey together, and at the end of the journey it’s my fondest hope that you’ll be in a better place.
I sought the assistance of Dr. Lyons as a college student who was struggling with the demands of a rigorous curriculum. Dr. Lyons did a thorough assessment of my attention difficulties and I was able to get a diagnosis and report that not only informed the way I navigated my studies but also could have enabled me to receive the appropriate support from my University if I chose to seek it. Throughout the process, Dr. Lyons validated my concerns about the learning process and helped me to better understand myself as a learner. My experience with her was invaluable and I believe strongly that the self-awareness that Dr. Lyons helps foster is a powerful tool for any student. Dr. Lyons is a compassionate and dedicated professional who truly has made a difference in my life.
R.S. - Adult Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
There is no one more significant in the village that helped us raise our four children (two boys and two girls) than Dr. Lyons. Beginning with grief counseling when our youngest was in the third grade through four varied adolescent experiences with all their twists and turns, she worked wonders through her professional blend of knowledge, patience, creativity, and nurture. She taught us that individual challenges are always family matters. And now that our kids are grown and moving on, we all believe that our family is deeply indebted to Dr. Lyons for the helping hand she repeatedly provided each and every time we needed it.
D.G. and N.G. - Family Therapy Patients March 1, 2016
I asked my daughter what her favorite thing about going to see Dr Lyons was. Her answer was that she got to play board games after school with her. The game collection is amazing and helped my daughter relax when she was first starting with Dr. Lyons.
E.R. - Child Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
I'm extremely pleased with the correct diagnosis (not ADHD) and treatment my child received under Dr Lyons care. She is now a college student and able to enjoy life without all the extra challenges she faced before treatment.
S.O. - Adolescent Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
Dr. Lyons was an effective and compassionate therapist for my needs. She provided me with valuable insights and ongoing support to encourage my personal growth. She communicates effectively in ASL and has a deep understanding of Deaf Culture and the challenges that Deaf clients face in society.
S.J. - Deaf Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
Debbie helped our family through a frightening, sad time with her thoughtful, supportive approach to the collaborative process and amazing ability to translate our sometimes very negative comments into useful dialogue. Post-divorce, my children and I are doing very well and Debbie continues to be excited to hear about our welfare. She is a gem!
HM (Happy Mom) - Collaborative Divorce Case March 1, 2016
After searching the United States for a psychologist to evaluate our deaf daughter, we travelled to Austin for Dr. Lyons to test her. Our daughter, in addition to being deaf has multiple disabilities, she is a real challenge. Dr. Lyons met that challenge, she was caring and creative in her testing. She was on the floor with our daughter because that's what it took to get the task done! Dr. Lyons has always been there as a support for our family.
C.E. - Deaf Child Psychological Evaluation March 1, 2016
My son saw Dr. Lyons for almost 3 years between the 4th and 6th grades. He benefitted tremendously from her counsel during this time. Dr. Lyons was easy to work with and was spot on in her assessment of my son and where he was struggling. At the end of each session, we debriefed on, not only on how that week's session had gone, but also on how the strategies she and my son were working on were translating into his world outside of her office. I appreciated that she was holistic in her approach and really wanted to work with his school to ensure the techniques and strategies were utilized in that environment, as well. She often helped me to understand how to talk to the school to seek out the right kind of assistance from them. I would and have recommended her to others who are looking for Clinical Psychologists for their child.
K.G. - Child Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
During a time when my identity was wrapped solely around the needs of others, Deborah Lyons provided me tools to develop an stronger, confident and self-loving person. On the heels of an international move, she helped me navigate the complexity of my divorce and custody battle. Her expertise and emotional support provided me with an understanding of how events in my life led to an unhealthy and frustrating situation. By learning to trust my intuition I gained a sense of autonomy and empowerment I didn't realize existed before meeting her. My current success is a direct and measurable result of therapy sessions with her.
S.N. - Adult Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
At the time of my son's first visit with Dr. Lyons, he had few friends, was lacking basic conversational skills and had low self esteem. Dr. Lyons not only taught him the social skills to be successful in middle school and high school, but she gave him the skills and self confidence to be successful in life. It was hard work, but the benefits have been priceless.
R.W. - Adolescent Therapy Patient March 1, 2016
I visited Dr. Lyons for several years through middle school into high school, and saw noticeable improvements in my physical health. I have not had chest pains or migraines in years!
M.O. - Adolescent Therapy Patient March 28, 2016